Wednesday 16 November 2016

Advent approaches

"Advent fast approaches and I've accomplished nothing", so says my husband - but he doesn't mean it. It is just that living in a #lodgehousechallenge# is, well, truly challenging. Take for example, getting an extractor fan fitted in the bathroom...

We lease the property, so we must ask the estate people to come. Six weeks later they arrive, but fit an extractor so basic it is Neanderthal, open to the elements, the perfect nesting site for birds, and filters an icy gale through the bathroom. So we get back on the email. Everything is fixed, eventually. And we are thankful. Right now our lean to is being re-built. I mean, it was a danger to all those near by in high winds. And the chaps that are rebuilding it are brilliant, skilled carpenters. We are thankful, truly.
The compost bins were meant to have been built, by us, in September. They are now done! Hurrah! It happened by happy/unhappy accident. G was in our old banger trying to drop B to childcare and get to work. The car broke down post childminder but pre work, leaving him stranded near home with 'nothing' to do. Nothing. Ha!
In a moment of inspiration we have asked a lad from the nearest village to help us at weekends when he can. It makes the world of difference. Progress gets made.You see, one of the biggest challenges we have faced is that we thought there would be two of us working outdoors, but there is not. Bertie, who turns one this weekend, doesn't like watching gardening from his buggy. He wants to do other one year old stuff, like play and crawl and giggle. Who'd have thought? So, with the best will in the world, only one of us gets to garden. I want to dig my herb patch, just outside the lean to. G wants to get started on the 'kitchen garden', viz the jungle. Somehow or other we needed to work a way of pleasing us both. Getting a little help has proven the miracle solution. We thank God for Archie.

To keep chipper we have to keep reminding ourselves why we have come, and what we are aiming to achieve. We have to keep thinking about how much we have already achieved. Inside, we have redecorated half of our small home. Outside, we have cleared the old barn. Tools have been organized, cleaned and oiled. We have started to dig a herb patch. The compost bins and leaf pens are built.  The gates have been painted. Wood for winter has been split and stored. Plans laid for the season ahead...
Money is not easy, and we are struggling to make ends meet each month, but, as my Ma would say, 'the struggle is all'. And, my Da would have said, 'it's only silly old money.' We have come here because we want a simple life, filled with fun and family - and that's it. Family comes first, all the great concerns of the world, like Tellies and iPhones and Shopping and Clothes and Bank Balances and Stuff, come later. Much later. So much later in fact that getting a haircut needs advanced planning at the moment. Maybe I'll buy scissors? And we still can't afford bedroom curtains - just as well there are no neighbours!

Ironically, the simpler you try to live, the harder it seems to get. Sometimes the task seems too much. In such moods, we light the fire and give each other a pep talk about how everything that people think matters doesn't really matter. That helps. Then we buy wine. We are going to have to give that up and start making booze. Such is the self sufficient life.
As Advent does approach we know one thing...we haven't any money for Christmas. And we have faith in another, we are going to have the best Christmas ever! We have wood for the fire; enough for a hearty meal; I've saved for a new toy for little B; last years tree is growing in a bucket; I've made the puddings; and loved ones will come and we will visit. Maybe we will buy ourselves some curtains...